Streamlining Data Management – WPRDC

In a time where information is readily available, it is easy to see why data driven decision-making has become a hot topic of discussion for people and organizations trying to impact their local communities. Although vast amounts of data can lead to an informed, equitable decision or outcome, condensing and sometimes even finding such data can be a major barrier to the process of change.

Despite the fact that there is an emerging need, managing mass data sets can be a big lift for any inexperienced entity. In 2015, the University of Pittsburgh Center for Urban and Social Research created the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center (WPRDC). For years, the University Center has helped people find and use information to improve their communities by operating as a information intermediary. To learn about more of the Center’s operations and responsibilities, visit their website.

Through time and experience, the University Center identified that the Pittsburgh region lacked infrastructure and capacity for properly managing mass data and making it accessible to those who could benefit from it. The Center documented this process and their open data experiences for the National Neighborhood Indicators Partnership report in 2014. In this report they identified that part of Allegheny County’s barrier to accessible data lies within its fragmented political landscape. They point out that “Allegheny County has 130 separate municipalities, including Pittsburgh, governing its 1.2 million residents. Many of these communities have fewer than 5,000 residents, and have very little capacity to produce machine-readable electronic records.”  The WPRDC seems to be a promising solution to this clearly identified problem. View the full report here for more about their findings.

By making public information more accessible, the Western Pennsylvania Regional Data Center is supporting community initiatives that would otherwise lack the infrastructure to keep up with the growing network of data providers and users. Currently, the Data Center maintains the Allegheny County and City of Pittsburgh’s open data portal along with many other services for academic institutions and non-profits, and, in turn, supports research, analysis, decision-making, and community engagement.

With such an impressive resume of experience and innovation, we are very excited for the WPRDC to have showcased Lots to Love as a dataset. Check out what they wrote here, and register for Lots to Love here.

An exciting collaborative action around data pertaining to vacant land and combating blight is happening in Pittsburgh this November. Representatives from the Regional Data Center and will be presenting at the first Pittsburgh Blight Bootcamp, hosted by the Pittsburgh blight working group. Keep an eye out for a recap of speaker sessions and materials covered during this conference on


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